Yes, it's OK to be angry at Elizabeth Warren: Stop stigmatizing Sanders supporters for wishing she endorsed

Sanders supporters have been pilloried for criticizing the Senator's inaction during the primary

By Daniel Denvir

Published March 7, 2016 12:57PM (EST)

Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders   (Reuters/AP/Jonathan Ernst/Susan Walsh/Photo montage by Salon)
Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders (Reuters/AP/Jonathan Ernst/Susan Walsh/Photo montage by Salon)

Some Bernie Sanders supporters are angry at Elizabeth Warren for not endorsing him before the Massachusetts primary. And so begins the newest episode in Hillary Clinton partisans attempting to smear everyday Sanders supporters—who, truth be told, mostly seem to be pretty nice and progressive-minded people—as pathologically sexist. In reality, Sanders supporters have every right to be angry and to express that anger. Warren is far closer to Sanders ideologically than to Hillary Clinton. Her endorsement would likely have put Sanders over the top in Massachusetts, which he narrowly lost. Warren is a U.S. Senator and a tribune of the Democratic Party left. She’s fair game for criticism.

As Shane Ryan points out in an overview at Paste Magazine, the ostensibly threatening or sexist comments posted on Warren’s Facebook page are in reality by and large thoughtful and impassioned pleas from people who think Warren is an incredibly important figure.

One commenter, for example, wrote:

"Extremely disappointed by the lack of courage you displayed by not endorsing Bernie Sanders. Still a fan but somewhat disillusioned at the moment. Very could have made a big difference in the Mass primary."

That said, Warren no doubt has her own reasons for withholding an endorsement. She probably wants to maintain leverage and to avoid the definite wrath of the Clinton machine and the possible wrath of a President Clinton. There is also a strong chance that either Sanders or Clinton would tap Warren as their running mate. Sanders would do so because Warren is the next most high-profile Democratic politician on the party’s left wing. And it wouldn’t hurt, especially given Clinton’s history-making potential, that she’s a woman—not only for the small number of internet-based haters who have spied sexism behind every Sanders supporter but more importantly for voters in general who rightly want to see women break new barriers.

As for Clinton, she could very well choose Warren because there would be no better way to soothe angry Sanders supporters should he lose. Sure, it won’t change my opinion that Clinton is a corporate-aligned and out-of-touch elite irreparably geared toward disastrous foreign policy misadventures. But then again, I’m not the average Sanders supporter. For most, tapping Warren would no doubt make it easier for them to hold their nose and pull the lesser-of-two-evils lever.

Sanders supporters are right to protest Warren staying on the sidelines, and Warren is entitled to her own reasons for doing so. This is a fair political debate. Stop stigmatizing Sanders supporters for engaging.

Daniel Denvir

Daniel Denvir is a writer at Salon covering criminal justice, policing, education, inequality and politics. You can follow him at Twitter @DanielDenvir.

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Bernie Sanders Dem Primary Elections 2016 Elizabeth Warren